Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mum on the Run - Top of the tops

There's no doubt it, tops can be tricky. When I say "tops" I don't meant t-shirts, long sleeved plain tops, sweatshirts or breton tops, although they are of course tops - just not the kind that I am talking about. They are too plain for what I have in mind.
Nor do I mean going out skimpy, revealing, sparkly, expensive tops. What I am talking about are every day tops that you can wear with your jeans, that are a little bit pretty but that aren't too fancy, or too expensive, for every day wear. The kind of top that you might put on and which makes you feel nicely put together, as though you have made a bit of an effort, without going overboard. The kind of top that when you put it with the right bag and the right shoes, you can look at in the mirror and think "I don't look half bad." The kind of top that someone might say "Oh, I like your top" about. You get my drift.
So, when I was in Zara today and I spotted three tops, all of which I could quite happily own, I went back to take photographs of them. One nice top is worth remembering, two nice tops are worth telling someone about and three nice tops are worth photographing and sharing on the blog. One thing I would urge you to do though, if only for a laugh, is to follow the links to the tops. Oh golly the models look miserable, as if they hate the clothes and can't wait to get home.
First off there's the oriental print combination top (£22.99) which reminded me very much of a Ted Baker style print. The print has also been used on skinny jeans and a dress - so it might result in Zara print overload later on in the season but so far, so good. There are so many pretty colours in this top that it would be easy to pick one of them up somewhere else in your outfit - or not if that's not your style. 

Number 2 is this printed embroidered top £29.99  How fab would it look with a pair of beaten up jeans and sandals or flip flops on a hot day? I'm not one for revealing all during the summer but this would still keep me cool whilst covering up. It's a little bit floaty but the neat pleats around the neckline and shoulders will keep the silhouette neat, so it should avoid that smocked/pregnancy top style look. I'm thinking more Reese Witherspoon and less [insert name of your choosing]!

Number 3 is this Japanese top with embroidered sleeve £25.99. V-neck tops aren't easy to come by which is a real pain in the whatsit because they are so much more flattering on ladies with larger busts and there are lots of ladies with larger busts. The way that the waistband sits also means that the top is really flattering for any lady with a less than flat stomach - which would be most of us.  I think that the embroidered sleeve is really pretty and the eye will automatically be drawn to it, rather than towards the centre of the body and to those bits that we tend to like least...

Finally I just thought that I would show you these bow trim high heel court shoes (£85) from Dune. It's quite rare to see such bright blue shoes but for anyone looking for a pair of shoes to jazz up a simple dress, or to add some interest to a plain wedding outfit, or because they fancy introducing some coloured shoes into their wardrobe, these could just be them.

Oh and look what I received today by way of a free gift with my trainers, which I have now located. How cool is this? My very own Sports Direct mug. It's more than I get with most purchases!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Mum on the Run - Shoes glorious shoes, there's nothing quite like them....

Oh golly, my head is all over the place tonight. Do you ever have days like that? I think that I might have a fever. Bieber fever to be precise because Justin is playing Birmingham these evening. We also have Girls Aloud in town - can Birmingham really stand the pace? Can we take the strain? Not only that but it's all happening less than 3 miles from where we live. Quite a few of my friends have gone to see Justin Bieber on the basis that they are "accompanying" their daughters. Yeah right!

I have also just been called by Radio WM to see whether I would like to speak on air tonight about Kerry Katona's wardrobe malfunction. For those of you who haven't seen the pictures (I hadn't until I googled it) I have to say I've been there and got the t-shirt, as eluded to in a post last week. It's not a pretty sight. I was asked whether I had had any wardrobe malfunctions and would I like to share them on air. Yes I have and no thanks, I wouldn't. Absolutley not. But I would like to pre-record the interview please because I am planning on either a) being asleep or b) watching Dallas on catch up when it's due to be broadcast.

Not only that but I have had an email to tell me that my lovely new Nike trainers have been delivered - although not to our address. Apparently I was out at the time they were delivered (I wasn't) and the card through the door will tell me where they are currently residing. Except there is no card so I'm at a bit of a loss.

I am also slightly traumatised about not having made it into Whistles today to give the Grazia voucher a run for its money but at least I managed to get around to paying a parking ticket that I got last week (don't tell the hubby).  Although thinking about it, that means that any potential budget for a Whistles purchase has been reduced to below a level at which you can buy anything from Whistles. On the other hand I promised someone that I would go and investigate the Zatchels in Selfridges tomorrow so I need to go there anyway....

So, what with Justin, the radio, the trainers, Whistles and several meetings today, I haven't had time to get my head around writing a blog post. Let alone a vaguely stylish/fashion related/witty one. What I think I will do instead is take a deep breath and leave you with a picture of some lovely shoes that would work really well in my summer wardrobe. They are the Kat Maconie Sandra in grey/nude and I love them. Sigh.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mum on the Run - Loving this fab new brand, Keungzai - for ladies with, or without, baby bumps

Last week I attended a pre-magazine launch/networking event in Birmingham where I was asked by Nicky Clarke, the founder of Juno Mum, to do a style presentation. It was a lovely event and a fantastic opportunity to meet some new people.
There I met Michelle Lee who runs Keungzai, which is  - "an affordable contemporary luxury label to be worn pre, during and post pregnancy."
I spotted Michelle across the room and thought to myself "hmmm, nice dress" in the way that you do when you see someone wearing a nice dress. When Michelle came up to talk to me afterwards, I told her how much I loved her dress and asked her where she had bought it, to which she replied something along the lines of "It's my own label." What a cool response eh? How good would it to be to give that as an answer to that particular question?
So I asked Michelle whether she would be happy for me to feature Keungzai on here and she agreed. Not only that but for anyone who would like to buy from Keungzai, just enter "STYLEGUILE" at the checkout until 30th April to receive 10% off all items and free P&P too.
The majority of the items shown below will be available from 1st March although some may come in a little later. Michelle is happy to deal with customer requests, so please do contact her with your queries.
These are simple, fantastic, versatile pieces made from really good quality fabric. They can be accessorised in all sorts of ways and dressed up for a wedding, or down with sandals during the summer, layered with a long sleeve top and tights in the winter or left loose on a hot day. Importantly, they have a great hem length to them. They are just that little bit different and will accommodate baby bumps, womanly curves and slim figures alike. So, with just a quick run through, here goes...

This is the Dolman sleeve printed shirt

Here's the layered silk shirt

This is the luxe draped back dress - love that back detailing. I think that it would look great worn to a wedding

Here is the ruched asymmetric dress worn by Michelle herself. I love the addition of the belt to nip it in at the waist.

Here is the super soft layered dress in this season's "colour"

And finally the two in one layered dress which has a whole Sandro/Maje/Cos feel about it, as do many of the pieces.

I think that it's also nice to read what others say about a brand too, which you can do here:
", minimalistic pieces that are cutting edge without compromising on functionality." - Kensington & Chelsea Today

"...a brand known for its modern take on pregnancy." - Pret a Pregnant

"Keungzai blurs the line between womenswear and maternitywear." - Elizabeth St

"Keungzai is a label to watch." - Stylenest

"Keungzai designer maternity clothes give pregnant women one more reason to glow." - Coolmompicks

"Love, love, love! Wish you'd been around when I was pregnant. A maternity must visit site!" - Sarah Curran, CEO,


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Mum on the Run - I've found them, oh yes I've found them! The perfect (Nike) trainers!

On 13th January I wrote about my latest style inspiration, that being our 5 year old daughter's Clarks trainers.  Sad, I know but I just love them - and not particularly for any sentimental reasons (how bad it that?) but just because I like the style.
Being in possession of several pairs of converse, and with any new pair being eyed eagerly by our 14 year old to the extent that they have to be closely guarded, I decided that it was time to branch out into some non-running trainers. I try and walk to school as often as possible and given that it often involves running alongside a scooter, or running along side a five year old (I wonder if I have gone overboard on emphasising how good exercise is for her!) it's good to have shoes that I am not going to be tottering in, especially as we are often passing stationary traffic, where the potential for ridicule is great.  
So, since that post I have been on the hunt for the perfect pair of trainers and these were the criteria:
They could not be white - that would make them too much like running trainers, of which I already have a pair;
I didn't want them to be flat (which ruled out Adidas Gazelles and Puma classics) but instead I wanted a slight "incline";
They needed to be a bit nerdy/1980's retro. Why, I do not know, but there we go;
They had to cost as little as possible.
So far I have trawled Office, Schuh, JJB, the new Sketchers store, Asics, Adidas online, Topshop, Asos, Gola, New Look, River Island, Nike for Liberty - and they are the ones I can remember - but to no avail.
And then this morning it hit me! Sports Direct! Now we are lucky (or unlucky) enough, depending on how you look at it, to have one close to hand. I both hate, and love, that store with a passion. It's great for the children - reasonably priced swimming goggles, shin pads, football boots and so on but the experience is pretty dire and you have to be in the right frame of mind to enter the building - which often I am not, not least because it is located right next to the Ann Summers store and I am frequently fielding difficult questions as we go over the threshold.
However, online it is a completely different experience and that's where I found these gems. They are exactly what I am after and being priced from £28 to £38, depending on whether they are the leather version or not, they are heavily discounted too.  They are the Nike Oceana in a myriad of colours from black through to grey, purple, pink, blue and the palest mint green.

They have the incline that I was after, are just on the right side of retro and come in enough colours to satisfy even the most discerning of customers. I quite like the ones in the top left - fuschia and lime. Great with jeans, ankle length trousers, shorts and even the odd sun-dress. I just need to order myself a pair now. Well, either that or brave the store, minus the children so as to avoid more embarrassing Ann Summers type questions.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Mum on the Run - on a trip down to London via Liberty, Anthropologie and for a real life meeting with fashion bloggers I have met in a virtual world

Today I nipped down, whizzed around and scooted back from London all in less than ten hours. A group of blogging friends were meeting and a last minute change of plans on my part meant that I could join them.
With an hour to spare before meeting up with everyone I headed, predictably, to Liberty for a look at their flower display... their hats which I was hanging my nose over last time I visited....

...and of course their clothes, via a wander through their bag department where, once again, I hung my nose (good job it wasn't runny) over the Sophie Hulme bags.

The appeal of Liberty to me, aside from the beautiful building and great layout, is the fact that rather than stocking designer brands at a few thousand pounds a pop, the brands that they stock, whilst out of my price range, could possibly come within it with a good sale, a fair wind and with a bit of capital injection for a Christmas or birthday present. It's a kind of aspirational/dreamy/in an ideal world expedition.

I have often spied Tucker in the Harvey Nichols 70% off sale. I love the colours and the prints of the pieces.

Carrying on from where I left off with the quilted jackets a couple of days ago, this one is by Isabel Marant, as are the two below.

I'm not quite so sure about the checked one - it looks a little like the acquascutum print, which although I like on some things, this isn't one of them.

I liked this Day Birger jacket though. As with all patterns, it's very subjective but I liked the colours and the geometrical aspect to it and I think that it would be a little more versatile in terms of what you could put it with, than the quilted ones.

I love the brand A.P.C. for its casual French style. With a mixture of stripes, prints and textures in relaxed styles, I could see myself wearing any of these pieces practically any day of the week (in my dreams).

After Liberty, I had a wander down Regent Street to Anthropologie. Lovely colours in the window! They were so spring like, despite the snow that was falling outside.

I have had my eye on a lace fronted sweatshirt for a while now. Topshop, Zara and this one from Anthropologie are all contenders. I like the idea of the practicality of a sweatshirt but the lace appeals to my liking for pretty things too.  Hmmm, I feel a blog post coming on!

I took this photo for my Mum, who loves garden birds. She hates collars on herself but loves birds, so there you go Mum, this one is for you - although I do like it too.

As to the meeting itself, I think that it's fair to say that we were all a little freaked out by meeting the actual, real, 3D people behind the blogs that we read. There's also that feeling of knowing people quite well, without really knowing them at all.  I think that it was most eloquently summed up by Avril from School Gate Style who said that it would all take a while to process.  It was so lovely though to get a chance to chat to everyone. Mostly we just chatted about our families - as is always the case when you get a group of Mums together. We went slightly off piste with a few other subjects too, once the wine had started flowing but some things are best left, for fear of causing embarrassment!

Due to the amount of chatting, eating and drinking that was going on, we didn't really take much by way of photographs but here's one of Natalie (left: Glam Rosie) and Avril (right: Schoolgate Style).

Here's Kat (left: Does my bum look 40 in this) and Fiona (right: Avenue 57)

Followed by Helen (left: The Flaky Fashionista) and Joanna (right: Poppy's Style) Sorry to Sue (Susie So So) and Marlene (Chocolate Cookies and Candies) for not getting photos.

With my attendance being a bit last minute, I had a quick flick through my wardobe last night to see what I could come up with. I had already decided on trousers, flats and of course layers and warmth were obligatory.

This is the print of the Zara blouse that I wore. I picked it up in the sale in the summer but hadn't worn it, so now seemed like the perfect time. It wasn't until I got it home that I realised that it had little gold skull buttons - but I quite like them.

With the photos being taken as we all piled into the car to take me to the station, they were a bit hurried. Actually I don't know why I put that as they always are - but I think that they just look it today!

So, here goes as to what I was wearing:

Shoes: All Saints, Trousers: Cos, Fur gilet: Primark (first outing), Leather jacket: Oasis (probably its 101 st outing!), Zara blouse; Orla Kiely bag; Gloves (present).

Some of the blogging ladies still won't be home yet. In fact three of them have to go home via aeroplane - two to Ireland and one to the US, so I  must admit to feeling very un-exotic, tucked up as I am back at home. Thanks for a great day out fellow fashion bloggers!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Mum on the Run - in double H&M, double Zara, Gap and Mulberry

Yesterday's post was a bit of a mammoth one in terms of the time that it took so this will just be a short one. 
Oh but first I must tell you about my most spectacular wardrobe malfunction today! Actually, I have changed my mind on that. Having drafted a paragraph with all the details, I decided that there was just too much information so instead I will confine it to a few words and you can join the dots - swimming pool, swimming costume, boobs. There you go, you can guess the rest. Fortunately only the youngest and I were in the pool. Not sure whether the lifeguard got an eyeful but I prefer to think not. 
So today's post is just an outfit one. I wore this yesterday when we went into the Bullring so that Flo (14) could style her brother (11). She's totally in charge of his wardrobe.  Listening to them in the changing rooms at H&M was very funny. At one point she said to him "Arggh Freddie, you're slower at getting dressed that Matilda (5)." I think it's a boy thing.
Having not worn it for a while, I gave the Val Doonican jumper (Jaeger Boutique) an outing and put it with an H&M shirt and neon necklace, Zara boots and coat, Gap jeans and a Mulberry handbag. Being so cold I appreciated the warm jumper and coat.
I'm off to London tomorrow to meet with a group of lovely fashion bloggers - I fear a lot of chatting somewhere just off New Bond street. As to what to wear - I have absolultely no idea but I do know that in typing this I have just trashed my freshly painted nails. Ho hum.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Quilted jackets - a collision of interiors with fashion and old meets new!

Quilted jackets have been around for eons now. I can hear my friend Sal snorting with laughter as she reads this, thinking to herself (probably like many others) that she remembers her Granny having one which she wore whilst sitting up in bed having a cup of tea.
In fact, in the name of comprehensive research for this post, I have even looked at sites which stock traditional quilted bed jackets. I have to say that I am now very concerned that, if my computer is ever seized by anyone in authority, I will be convicted of crimes against fashion for even looking at those sites.
More quilted jackets are definitely creeping into the stores. With all things "Isabel Marantesque" being the height of cool, anything with a touch of bohemian chic is much sought after.
For me they are a great transitional piece, adding colour, texture and warmth whilst lightening things up a little. They will be fantastic with slightly beaten/faded/slouchy jeans and boots whilst the weather is cooler and can then be worn with converse or sandals when the weather warms up. I don't think that I would wear one with a dress or skirt for fear of looking a little too "house on the prarie" but if it was the right one, you never know.
I already own a couple of quilted pieces but sadly they aren't jackets. No, rather they are, ermm, quilts! I have always loved the print on this one which is from Laura Ashley and which now resides on the eldest's bed.

This one I bought from Cologne and Cotton, one of my favourite bed linen stores, when our son was born. I think it would make a great jacket!

And whilst I love this one, sadly it is for a 5 year old. So I think that it might be a touch on the snug side.

However taking a look around, there are several available, at a wide range of prices.

This one is from Anthropologie (£118). Anthropologie is stocked full of quirky and interesting designs, both clothing and interiors and is definitely worth taking a look at. Predictably I like the blue and white print of this one and the pretty detailing across the shoulders and the back.

Another option, also from Anthropologie (£118) this has a more distinctive design than the one above. It's less of a "blend in" piece and more of a statement so arguably better for someone with the right kind of personality to carry it off.

I love this River Island paisley print bed jacket (£30). I have no idea why we are seeing the backs of these jackets but there we go. This one has been in stores since September so is largely on its way out now, although there are some in the Liverpool store still.

New Look is getting in on the act with its black floral tapestry jacket (£29.99) which I am slightly less keen on, probably due to the darker colours. I see them more as a piece to lighten up your wardrobe, colourwise, after the winter - even if they do still have to be layered under a heavier coat for now.

As an alternative there's the New Look cream tapestry jacket (£29.99). I think that it would be better without the heavy black heavy trim but some will prefer its presence as it does a good job of toning down the full on floral effect.

The Hobbs NW3 Keats jacket (£129) is a real cutie. It would look good with muted colours layered underneath it, or with a brighter colour to bring it to life a little more. Either way, I don't think that anyone would feel too conspicuous wearing it. I can also see how to start with it may have few friends but I have quite high hopes for this one!

You may have seen the Zara printed cardigan (£59.99) on Kat's blog (Does my bum look 40 in this) and in Sue's (Susie So So). They both looked fantastic in it and for very different reasons. The background is a bit pale for my colouring, although it would look amazing on Yazury, who I featured yesterday.

Predictably this navy blue Zara jacquard cardigan (£59.99) is one of my favourites because a) it's navy, b) it's navy and c) it's navy - with just a few colours worked in there as a trim. Sadly it's not available yet but I am sure that it will be any day now.

So, that's what I have found so far. I also checked out Oasis, Warehouse, H&M, Mint Velvet, Mango and Banana Republic - but these seem the best of the crop so far - unless anyone can tell me otherwise. Would you or wouldn't you? I will be!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Another Mum on the Run - Yazury Goodrham - yes, another Goodrham, but one who is far more exotic than this pale one!

I don't know if you've noticed but there's something a little different about me.  You go to the beauticians to get your eyebrows done and come out looking completely different....
This is my sister in law, Yazury.  Originally from Venezuela she has braved the UK winters for over 14 years now, knowing that at home it 30 degrees plus. How she does it I don't quite know. Well I do really. It's all in the name of love.

More than anything I would love to have Yazury's skin colour.  She always looks so healthy and can get away without wearing socks/tights as soon as the weather warms up slightly, whereas old blue legs here definitely needs the assistance of fake tan which is often a bit stinky, which gives me a runny nose and which brings me out in a rash. Never a good look.

On boxing day there she was, all body-con taupe and black lace short sleeved dress and there was I in about 500 layers. Theirs is the only house that's too hot for me, which is saying something. It's positively tropical in their house in Leeds - which somehow doesn't sound quite right.

When Yazury came to see us the other day I asked her for a quick snap. I loved her combination of a quilted parka, French Connection breton top, printed Next trousers and Zara bag. It's a good mix of the colours black, green and burgundy plus stripes, prints and quilting and it all just works so well together.

As well as speaking too many languages to mention, she is a jewellery designer and runs the blog Yazury's Rocks which is definitely worth dropping by some time so if you have a moment some time, please feel free to do so.